Buses, trucks, vans and of course passenger cars were all on the track to impressively demonstrate their multiple skills or to simply be driven for pleasure.
The line-up is definitely a looker: the entire Grand Prix track and the driver safety training centre at the Hockenheimring were taken over by Mercedes-Benz during the event. Experienced instructors and trained driver safety trainers continually and knowingly pushed man and machine to their limits.
For example, when test driver Hermann Zehender demonstrated the patented anti-jackknife control of the new Citaro G with some rather extreme manoeuvres, as a passenger, it became very difficult to hold on even with both hands.
Another example of this was when the doppelgänger of the German football team's Travego Edition 1 showed its true potential as a touring coach as it hit the aquaplaning area of the track's sloping section.
One member of the Mercedes-Benz family which is definitely a must on the Hockenheimring is the Citaro Euro VI, which two weeks prior to this event had been at the World Congress for public transport in Geneva where, thanks to its very special paint finish, it really drew the attention of the visitors. Here though, the "Bus of the Year 2013" made its way along the curved track with its curved aquaplaning area, where it perfectly demonstrated to astounded passengers how useful ESP really is in urban regular-service buses.
At first, one might wonder why an urban regular-service bus needs ESP?
However, after driving instructor and OMNIplus driver trainer Theo Ruder swerves to avoid an obstacle in a bend, it suddenly all became clear to everyone on-board: even at what appears to be a slow speed (Theo Ruder accelerates in the circle to a maximum speed of 40 km/h), ESP helps the bus hold its line.
On the Citaro, ESP adjusts the braking forces at each individual wheel and simultaneously reduces the engine performance which in turn also reduces the risk of skidding. On regular-service buses, this is currently unique but in such a field of application, it is also particularly important. The reason: in urban traffic, the dangers are sometimes unpredictable and thus quick reactions are of crucial importance.
As an experienced colleague from development with 40 years' experience as a test driver for all sorts of vehicles, Hermann Zehender is more than aware of this fact. He guided the 18-metre long version of the Citaro, the Citaro G with anti-jackknife control, along the pre-defined course at the Hockenheimring's driver safety training centre.
"Please hold tight with both hands, and I'm not joking", requested instructor Andreas Türk, who accompanied the journeys and explained how the anti-jackknife control works.
Before everyone was safely seated and holding tight as requested, the bus wouldn't move an inch - and there's a very good reason for this, as what Zehender did to the bus is not something which you would like to experience on a regular bus journey. Equally at the moderate city speed of 50 km/h at most, by means of continuous, short but intensive steering movements, he forced the rear of the bus to break away and lurch. The Citaro remained serene and adamantly followed the provocative path laid out by the driver.
Seated firmly in the bus, you can get a rough idea of what immense forces must be acting on the components of the flexible coupling and the work which the system actually carries out.
Link: Track Hockenheimring